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Jul 15th 2020

A Champion's Guide to Personal Narrative Essay

how to write a personal narrative essay
Table of contents
  1. The Definition: What Is a Narrative Essay?
  2. Step-By-Step Guidelines on How to Write a Narrative Essay
  3. The Bottom Line

What's the first idea that comes to your mind when your teacher asks you to write a personal narrative essay? Most students think of life experiences they would share in the form of a story or a blog post. The process of writing a narrative essay is related to a personal experience, but it's much more than that.

This is an academic assignment, which requires a standard structure but gives you enough space to play with your ideas and express your character. This is a liberating opportunity to find some amusement in the academic writing process. But for most students, the expectations imposed for a creative narrative essay are overwhelming.

You're not alone in this struggle. Many students hire PhD thesis writing services because they didn't know how to handle this assignment. You can do the same if you get stuck. But first, you can try writing a narrative essay by following the instructions we'll provide below.

The Definition: What Is a Narrative Essay?

By definition, narrative essays are texts used to share a story or a personal experience in a creative, inspirational, and personal way. People love reading and hearing stories, which is why the interest for this particular essay type is much bigger when it comes to the audience. For a student, a first person narrative essay is a way to be understood and heard by the professor, which can greatly influence the final grade and academic reputation of that same student.

All of this requires that you not only create a good structure as with other essays, but also write a very compelling story people won't want to stop reading.

Writing a personal narrative essay is an opportunity to share your voice and your story with the readers. These are full of emotions and opinions. So, when you are given the assignment to work on a personal narrative paper, the goal of the professor is to develop your storytelling skills and narrative style writing, as well as evaluate your understanding and knowledge of a given subject.

Because of their nature, narrative essays can be very exciting and are never dull. Moreover, professors hardly ever assign a personal essay topics since, of course, this has to result from your own experiences and opinions.

This adds an extra task to your list of essay writing obligations, but it also makes it possible for you to write on your personal essay ideas, the ones you actually like, instead of writing on a pre-assigned one.

Now that you know and understand what a narrative paper is, it is time to learn how to write a narrative essay.

Mind the Narrative Essay Structure

Since the narrative essay definition makes this project look more personal, students get relaxed with the format. They often submit papers that look like blog posts. Professors consider that a mistake. When they define narrative essay, they ask you to provide a structured paper with these sections clearly distinguished:

  • Introduction
  • Body of three paragraphs
  • Conclusion

It's best to make the paragraphs symmetrical, so none of them will be too short or too long to disturb the balance. Create an outline with points that you plan to include in each section. If you were wondering how to write an essay fast and structure it properly, the outline is your answer.

Step-By-Step Guidelines on How to Write a Narrative Essay

This is one of the simplest academic projects, but it still comes with specific requirements. We'll give you clear guidelines on how to tackle the process in different stages. When you figure out how to write a narrative essay step by step, the assignment will be less overwhelming.

Step One: Choose between Personal Narrative Ideas

Before you get to writing a personal narrative paper, your task will be to choose from a variety of narrative essay ideas. As we said, the topic for this task is rarely assigned, so it is up to the writer to come up with great personal narrative ideas for the content. Now, in order to talk on one topic for the length of an entire essay that is interesting from end to finish, you need to choose one that you are interested in and passionate about.

The ideal topic is one that you can convert into an interesting story that will matter to the audience and that matters to you. If you aren't passionate about the topics for narrative essay, this will be easily noticeable once the reader starts going through the content you've provided.

To choose a topic out of all those ideas, do some brainstorming. Note down every topic you come up with and start eliminating. The ones that are too hard to express are the first ones to go from the list. Next, you need to remove the ones that do not have a lot to share, since you'll need actual stories to write the entire paper length. And finally, you're eliminating based on preference and passion.

In the end, you should have one or two topics on that list to choose from. If you can't make the final choice, consult with someone close to you. They will tell you what sounds more appealing – that's the topic you should go with.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics Ideas

the best personal narrative ideas

Without an interesting topic, it's hard to be inspired to write this type of paper. A topic that lets you describe an amazing personal experience is the starting point. If you're wondering: “What are good topics for a narrative essay?” you'll like the list of suggestions, we have for you.

  1. The most exciting day in your life
  2. A wonderful summer vacation you've had
  3. Some trip that included a surprise or something unexpected
  4. A time in your life when you experienced something very scary or spooky
  5. A moment in your life where you learned something new that changed your life
  6. The time when you moved from a home you loved to a new place
  7. The person that you met and changed your life
  8. A person you admire and look up to, and why
  9. Something very funny that has happened to you or your friends
  10. The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you
  11. A memory when you were lost and couldn't find your way
  12. Sad experiences of people you care about, with people you care about, or about people you care about
  13. The moment when you found the hobby that changed your life
  14. An accomplishment that was extremely challenging, but totally worth it
  15. Something that happened that makes you feel discriminated or rejected
  16. A random and unexpected act of kindness that you witnessed or did
  17. An injury you have suffered in the past and how it affected you
  18. Some historic event that has an influence on you or you have a strong opinion about
  19. A time when you witnessed an important or major event
  20. A very difficult decision you had to make in your life
  21. The hardest personal experience that taught you a lesson
  22. Tell a spooky story that really happened
  23. The best day you've ever spent in nature
  24. How did your dog or cat change your life?
  25. The most precious memory from your childhood
  26. A challenging experience that shifted your mindset
  27. How you fell in love with books
  28. A precious memory with a family member
  29. A strange encounter with a mysterious stranger
  30. How you started a chain of random acts of kindness

Step Two: Write a Personal Narrative Outline

A personal essay outline can do many things to help a student. It is the final step of the pre-writing stage of any academic paper writing process. Without it, you can easily get lost in writing later, fail to mention the key information, and will definitely spend much more time than the necessary to write the essay.

An outline for narrative essay is a kind of a narrative summary, a plan that lets you find spot for each of the main points, organize all body paragraphs into a cohesive order, and ensure that you can develop each of the ideas you have about the essay. This kind of narrative summary will take minutes of your time to prepare, but it will prevent you from being stuck when you are writing a narrative essay.

Just think of the outline as a map, one that shows you where to put what evidence, what paragraph comes next, how to substantiate your main points, and how to finish the essay.

Outlining is a helping tool for thoughts organization, but it is also the point where you organize all that data you gather through research. In most cases, narrative essays don't require a lot of research. Depending on the topic you choose, you might not even have to perform any research whatsoever.

This sounds amazing, doesn't it? This is perhaps the only essay type that you can write without visiting libraries, checking online sources, and reading those endless articles to grasp ideas from.

However, your essay still will contain some important information, perhaps a quote from someone you talked to or an anecdote you wish to share. All of this in combination with every idea you have about the essay belongs in the outline.

Once you have the outline ready, you'll know how to start a personal essay.

Let's summarize the steps on how to write a narrative essay outline:

  • Brainstorm for topics. Sure; you can choose any topic from the ones we suggested above. However, it's important to think about the theme that will inspire you to write the most.
  • Create a table for the personal narrative essay outline: introduction, body with three paragraphs, and conclusion. Then, write bullet points in each of these sections, so you'll plan what to write.
  • Don't think too much about writing a narrative essay outline. Just keep the structure right and go with the flow. It's a personal paper, after all.

Step Three: Start the First Draft

how to write a narrative essay fast

This advice applies to any type of essay writing, so it's only natural that you should use it for this essay, too – write freely. Your outline will come very handy when you need to organize the drafts or you forget what comes next. But, for this very first draft, don't focus on the narrative essay format, the structure, or the content.

Since narrative essays are basically personal thoughts put on paper, this is more important than ever. Don't interrupt that thought flow. You'd still have to make more drafts even if you do, so the best thing you can do at this time is write without stopping and going back.

There's another important tip to remember: timing is essential when you're wondering how to start a personal narrative paper. Don't wait until the last minute. The approaching deadline will add to the stress, so you'll lose that free flow of inspiration. This can lead you to the thoughts about getting academic writing help. It's also a good idea, but it's always better when you don't rush the process. 

Start writing as soon as your professor gives you the assignment. You can leave some space between the first draft and the editing process. As for the first draft, it's important to write it ASAP.

Step Four: Revise the Draft

A perfect essay will result of more than one or two drafts. We can't tell you how to write a personal narrative to the point, but there are still some rules that apply to any essay. Ideally, the revision process should contain of the following actions:

  • Include the key elements

Any story you'll ever write will contain key, storyline elements. These include a description, characters, setting, plot, etc. The combination of these elements is what makes the readers understand your essay and feel intrigued by your story.

  • Present your point of view clearly

When asked how to write a personal narrative essay, there's one big advice we can give you – focus on your point of view, your emotions and understandings of the topic. This is the core of a narrative paper and readers have to understand what your stand and role is in the presented story. So, whatever you share with the audience, take a stand and tell it from your point of view by sharing your perspective and your emotions.

  • Skip the irrelevant

Very often, people who write narrative essays get too carried away in their own thoughts, they share more than they should. When you revise the first draft, expect to find many such occasions. Even though this is important to you, you have to remove the things that don't impact, influence, or have any importance in terms of the story.

  • Prove and support

You can't just toss opinions in your writing without any solid ground for them to stand on. Even though this essay kind doesn't demand much research, you still have to provide the readers with some facts, references, and examples that make them better understand your thoughts.

  • Go for clarity

People don't want to read essays that are filled with complex statements and sentences, especially not when the essays serve to tell an interesting story. Everything you share in your essay should be clear and ambiguous to the readers, so remove any vague sentences from it before you finalize the essay.

  • Use chronological order

When it comes to narrative essays, the best approach is a chronological approach. You can stray from this and move things around, but only if you are experienced enough to provide clarity despite the mixed order of things. Otherwise, the safest way to write a narrative essay and to avoid unnecessary confusion is to use chronological order.

  • Check the instructions

Your story will be irrelevant to the professor if you don't pay attention to what he actually requested. Most of the time, you'll be given some requirements and guidelines to follow. During your draft revisions, check the requested narrative essay format, word length, and any other demands your professor had about this assignment.

  • Find every mistake and error

Revising the essay includes editing and proofreading it. These two can be the hardest part of the revision process, so don't make the mistake of taking them lightly. A single spell check won't do the job and can miss more than you can imagine. That's why essays require so many edits on behalf of the writer – the more you read it, the more you can edit and perfect before you submit the essay.

When it comes to editing and proofreading, your best shot is to give it to someone else. But, if you decide to do this on your own, make sure to use various approaches to find all the errors and fix them.

  • Be very descriptive

A narrative essay is by nature, a descriptive essay. Storytelling demands details and descriptions that will reel the audience in and make them understand your stance. So, even if you created a very general, highly outlined first draft, add some descriptions in between to make the reader understand your story better.

Narrative Essay Examples to Inspire You to Write

Many students have no idea how to write this type of project, simply because they've never seen personal narrative examples. Maybe that's the missing piece of the puzzle. When you take a look at a few brilliant examples of a personal narrative, you'll get inspired to complete your own paper.

There's a catch: you mustn't get too inspired by the personal narrative essay samples. They've been written by other students or professional writers. Those are their ideas, which you mustn't plagiarize. Use the samples only as inspiration for the structure and the theme. Then, turn that motivation into your own, original storytelling attempt.

We have some personal narrative essay examples, so check them out if you lack inspiration to write.

The Bottom Line

Essay writing is much harder on students when they're actually given the task to write one. Because of the vast number of different essay types and the never-ending topic choices, students are often left fighting with a writer's block, unable to start, organize, or finish their essay.

But, if you want to create a paper that's worthy of an A, you can use this four-step guide and practice your essay writing skills. With time, essay skills are built on and the entire task becomes much easier and more bearable. And since narrative essays are the most flexible essays that you'll be assigned, there's no better time for you to enjoy and let your creativity lead you!

But we have to be realistic: sometimes you lack time, energy, or will to complete a paper. You don't feel like sharing personal experiences. Maybe you lack confidence in writing, or you're a non-native English speaker. In those situations, you can think about hiring our essay writing service.

We have outstanding writers, who understand your struggles. They always take students' ideas and turn them into original narrative papers. We allow you to choose the deadline and set the terms. You'll get a brilliant paper, which you can use as a sample to learn how to write better. 

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